cover image The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope

Rhonda Riley. Ecco, $26.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-209944-0

Riley’s debut novel fuses a lyrical, tender love story with a sophisticated depiction of a supernatural sentient being. When 17-year-old Evelyn Roe discovers what appears to be a naked man buried in the mud of her aunt’s North Carolina farm, she’s bewildered by the figure’s grotesque features, indeterminate sex, and strange vocalizations. Within a few days the mysterious figure transforms into a tall, red-haired woman, nearly Evelyn’s identical twin. Evelyn names her Addie and passes her off as a cousin. Their friendship becomes sexual, but Evelyn wants a conventional life, so Addie seduces a passing stranger, assumes his likeness, and reappears to become Evelyn’s mate, Adam. They settle down, produce five daughters, and lead an idyllic life on the farm. However, when one daughter dies in a tragic accident, the manner of Adam’s grief alerts the small community that he is “not one of us.” In fear, the family flee to Florida where they resume domestic harmony. Passing years take a physical toll on Evelyn but not Adam, whose revelations lead to a poignant denouement. Riley sometimes overdoes the quotidian minutiae of farm life, but succeeds both in getting the reader to suspend disbelief and fashioning a compelling story. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (Apr.)